Food Network Star has returned for its 12th season, and with it comes 12 new (and one former) faces to battle it out in the culinary arena to find out who will (possibly) get their own show on Food Network. Now that we’ve gone through 11 previous season of this series, we’re starting to find that the contestants in this season are almost just rehashes of former contestants. Melissa Pfeister is season 9’s Nikki Dinki. Damiano Carrara is season 10’s Luca Dela Casa. Rob Burmeister is Season 6’s Tom Pizzica + Season 9’s Rodney Henry (Pie Style, Jack). Martita Jara is literally Season 8’s Martita Jara. So it is going to be difficult in season 12 to separate from the pack and make a name for yourself. So let’s take a look and see where they stand after week two:
Havrid had a hard time getting through to the judges as he was a southern cook that just ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…….
Melissa Pfeister, who has written food articles for ESPN’s Page 2, came in with nearly death blow of a Culinary Point of View (POV), of “Turning foods that aren’t necessarily good for you into healthy alternatives.” As mentioned before, that’s about the same move that Nikki Dinki tried to pull in season 9, but at least for Nikki, she made it past episode two. Pfeister also has a series on Crave online’s YouTube page called “Hot For Food“, so I could see where Food Network saw promise, but even there, the actual cooking performance is hard to watch. Lastly, her entire twitter account is devoted to Ohio State and the Cavs… So we were saved from that as well…
Hrrrmmm…. Where to even start with Aaron. Aaron’s a big ole bro, who just loves meat. Meat. Meat. Meat. That’s all well and good, but I don’t think at any point he showed much promise. I thought of him as like Season 4’s Adam Gertler, maybe doing some man on the street type show, where he goes around and talks to people about food, and not really cook anything. But I’m pretty sure we won’t see Aaron again for a while after the end of the show where he was eliminated this week, and the closing moment was a shot of him telling the mentors to “Suck It”.
Week 2 Power Rankings
10) Monterey Salka
Monterey came in on the first week saying she’s a cook, a model, a world traveler, but then shows up on the show and is one of the most timid people around. It seems like she has no personality. In the head-to-head battle against Jernard (which was a given she was going to lose), she tried too-hard to get the audience on her side, then completely got destroyed by the pop-n-lockin’ madness that was the Chef of Love. Also, who makes a mac and cheese dish, and uses long noodles with really no cheese at all? C’mon(terey) man.
9) Ana Quincoces
Ana’s THE WORST (but smart in playing the game) A former member of The Real Housewives of Miami and according to our own Megan Suttles, “I think she was married to a drug cartel boss/leader/President…. I don’t know their job titles…” Ana clearly has no interest in playing nice with others on this show. She just wants to rise through the ranks to our own show. Ana’s been taking verbal jabs at every contestant she’s had the opportunity to do so, and has no time or patience for puns like “I Falafel in love with…” However, she has the uncanny ability to be so awful in the mentor challenges, then ace the cooking challenges. Maybe having a history in reality television has taught her how to game the system. I’m also pretty sure she ruined Melissa’s tomatoes.
8) Yaku Moton-Spruill
Yaku has had a few setbacks in the first two episodes of the show. In the first, he came out as a chef from San Francisco, but then decided halfway through the show that his POV is now soul food, a POV that this season is oversaturated with. In the second episode, he made one of the best looking dishes in his Chili Cheese Dog Sushi Roll, but got paired up against the tiny powerhouse that is Tregaye. She took over the mentor on-camera challenge, and then also the Rev Run challenge. He’s making good food, just not getting the personality part right.
7) Joy Thompson
Joy is Season 12’s Marty with the Party. She’s a southern woman from Thomasville, North Carolina, and has the country accent to go with it. She’d serve perfectly in a two hour block with Trisha, Ree, and Kentucky’s own Damaris Phillips. She’s got a good sense of humor and was able to work well being paired with Damiano this week. In a normal situation being paired against the Italian means you have to work three-times as hard to get noticed, but she held her own and they put together a good remote spot. However, getting paired in a popularity cooking contest against Damiano meant she got put in the losers bracket this week. She’ll bounce back and stick around for a while.
6) Damiano Carrara
He’s good looking. He’s Italian. Giada is a mentor. He’s safe for like the next 6-7 weeks.
5) Jernard Wells
Jernard is “The Chef of Love”. He came on strong in the opening episode with his culinary point of view, which amounts to wooing women with the power of chicken. He has a lot of personality, but needs to work on talking to the camera. In fact, in his mentor challenge, he essentially screamed about pizza for 20 minutes (which I can totally relate to). In the Rev Run challenge, he was such a smooth talker, and an even more smooth dancer. His personality is going to be tough to get around for the other contestants, but they’re going to have to get up to his level, and cook even better or Jernard to get the boot anytime soon.
4) Erin Campbell
EC’s also my dark horse to win the entire thing. She has a great personality, and is the baker of the contestants, and you know Food Network loves their baking right now. However, she had to up against the powerhouse that is Martita in a head-to-head challenge. Their mentor challenge was a big hit, and she showed a lot of promise, but a bad cook-off put Erin in the bottom four. I could see her actually having a show of her own down the road, with the ability to hang with some of the best. In her talking head segments, she reminds me of someone who is on one of those “best meals I ever ate” shows on Food Network, just seems very natural. She just has to get out of her own head. Oh and she says “Oh, Smidgens” a lot.
3) Tregaye Fraser
So, here’s the deal… Tregaye is going to be a pretty polarizing figure on Food Network Star, in that you’re either going to love her or really dislike her. I’m leaning towards the latter, mainly because her little hand wave and the “keep it cute” slogan, just doesn’t seem like something that is going to fit in on a show in the current Food Network lineup. But, maybe I’m wrong. She keeps calling everything “whimsical”, but what’s whimsical about a chili cheese sushi roll. That being said, she makes good food and has a personality that the crowd in the Rev Run challenge seemed to like. It’s just not for me. Her personality is going to keep her going strong with the judges for now, and that’s what’s most important.
2) Martita Jara
Martita has essentially been handpicked to win this competition. She has the professionalism of someone who has done this before, shown by her performance in the redemption show that earned her a spot on season 12. She knows her culinary identity, and when the camera turns on, she lights it up. It sucks that she was paired with Erin Campbell in the head to head competition, as I think that got in Erin’s head and made her pretty nervous. Otherwise I see both of these women making it to at least the second half of the season. Also, the little snippet between judges table and the elimination was a nice look to see that Martita can only talk about what happened when she was on “Season 8” and people are ready to get rid of her.
1) Rob Burmeister
Rob’s the man to beat. Entering the competition from day one referring to himself as “a lunch lady”, he won the judges over and can really get away with anything that he wants. Bobby hit the nail on the head at the end of the head-to-head challenge when he said, “He’s too likable”. He has the range to cook a lot of foods, under the guise of working as a “School Lunch Administrator”. This is his competition to lose, but as we always know at Food Network Star, anything can happen.
How do you feel about this week’s Food Network Star Power Rankings? Let us know below or @FunkhouserKSR on Twitter